The Royal Gazette newspaper writes that a team of advisors hired by the government has concluded that the planned new unified licensing regime in the country will result in lower broadband prices for end users. The team, which was assembled to assess regulatory reform of the country’s USD200 million per annum telecoms industry, has concluded that the current system of multiple single licences has resulted in high broadband prices ‘even from a regional perspective’, and blames ‘enforced separation of services’ for that fact.
In its findings, the team noted: ‘As was mentioned in the market definition analysis, a major factor driving broadband is the fact that, in Bermuda, broadband access and internet services must, as a matter of law, be provided under separate licences [typically held by separate companies]. This enforced separation of services that are typically provided by one company as a bundled service option is undoubtedly a contributing factor to the high broadband service prices observed in Bermuda.’
However, this is set to change if the government forges ahead with its plan to open up the telecoms industry in Bermuda next spring with the granting of new Integrated Communications Operating Licences (ICOLs). Despite concerns from local players over the speed of the plan, including from KeyTech subsidiaries Bermuda Telephone Company, Logic Communications and CableCo, the government is ploughing on with its plan to implement change. To ensure a smooth transition, the date on which the Regulatory Authority Act and the Electronic Communications Act will become fully effective, has been pushed back to the first week of January 2013. The new regulator will also take over at this point, with the Ministry of Telecommunications and E-Commerce (METEC) now saying it is committed to ‘converting the licences of existing A, B and C carriers and other PTS licensees to ICOLs by 1 April 2013.